After emerging as a City Council campaign item and arising during a February retreat, discussion of a development moratorium is back at tonight’s Asheville City Council meeting.
City Attorney Bob Oast will give a presentation on the city’s options regarding a moratorium, which has been called for by activists including the group Mountain Voices Alliance, until the city can develop a downtown master plan.
Oast’s presentation is for informational purposes, unless Council instructs staff to work out a more specific plan.
Under a North Carolina statute cited in the report, the city must identify the reason and end date for a moratorium, as well as list the specific corrective actions it plans to take while the moratorium is under way. There would, the report continues, also have to be a public hearing before a final vote. Oast also notes that previous moratoia in North Carolina have resulted in litigation.
Meanwhile, the MVA continues to argue in favor of a moratorium, and on Monday released a statement via e-mail that reads, in part:
“Considering the proposed Master Plan process will take at least eight to twelve months to complete, how can we continue approving large-scale projects? What’s the purpose of spending money on this comprehensive plan if the available space is being consumed by development beforehand? What will be left to plan for?”
To see Oast’s entire staff report, go here.
The e-mail from Mountain Voices Alliance is below, as is a video from Council’s meeting.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
March 24, 2008 Elaine Lite – 273-1781
Mountain Voices Alliance presses for downtown moratorium
Asheville, NC – Mountain Voices Alliance will call upon City Council to consider passing a resolution or hold a public hearing for a building moratorium in downtown Asheville until a Master Plan can be completed.
Councilwoman Robin Cape recently brought up the issue during a Council work session. A discussion regarding a moratorium will be on the agenda for Tuesday, March 25.
“We feel this dialogue is long overdue,” said former City Council candidate and Mountain Voices Chair, Elaine Lite. “Our organization, along with People Advocating Real Conservancy (PARC), has been advocating for a temporary moratorium for over a year to no avail.” One of the primary issues of Lite’s campaign was to control growth and stop overdevelopment. “Considering the proposed Master Plan process will take at least eight to twelve months to complete, how can we continue approving large-scale projects? What’s the purpose of spending money on this comprehensive plan if the available space is being consumed by development beforehand? What will be left to plan for?”
Over the past 18 months, PARC and MVA have collected approximately 5000 signatures of citizens who are in favor of a moratorium on large-scale developments, (both county and city-wide) until a comprehensive land use plan is completed. Opponents continue to repeat the myth that building densely in the city will prevent sprawl. Sadly, without a plan in both the city and the county, we run the risk of ending up with excessive density, monumental high-rises and crippling traffic jams downtown, in addition to sprawl across our mountains.
“In effect,” Lite continued, “Continuing to approve projects that will impact the future of downtown for decades to come prior to the Master Plan is like building a house without a blueprint.”